Meet Kathleen Thurber – Alberta Innovator

Meet Kathleen Thurber, a senior communications specialist at Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.
Tell us about your communications experience.

I am the Corporate Communications Director at Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS), a position I’ve held for 17 years. I’ve also worked for several cultural institutions in western Canada, including a stint as a private art gallery director in Edmonton and Vancouver.
I’ve served on the boards of Changing Together: A Centre for Immigrant Women, Planned Parenthood and as Board President of the Edmonton First Night Festival. I was also a board member of the Canadian Science Writers Association for four years.

Currently, I serve as a member of the Gala Committee for the Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) Foundation and as a board member for NeuroDevNet, one of the Networks of Centres of Excellence focused on early brain development. I have an MA in English that I received from the University of Alberta.

What type of organization is Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS)?

AIHS is part of an integrated research and innovation system that is unique in Canada. There are four, sector-specific corporations, plus an agency charged with overseeing the overall research and innovation strategy. AIHS is the corporation that leads health research and innovation in Alberta through competitive funding of priority-driven, outcomes-focused activity.

At the beginning of 2012, AIHS launched a new suite of funding opportunities and programs that equate to tens of millions of dollars invested in our provincial health research activity.

What changes have you seen during your career that you think are particularly positive, and are there any areas where you think improvements can be made?

I have seen advancement in professionalizing communications over my career, which is in large part thanks to peer organizations such as IABC, the establishment of degree and diploma programs, the widening scope of communications and of course the array of tools that we now have to work with.

Some aspirational basics that still stand for me (although there are some days): always figure out the story, send handwritten notes of thanks, stay calm always, do more listening than talking, and be generous, courteous and accommodating to all, because it’s a small world.

Last words?

I think we are entering into an exciting era in Alberta with a political leadership that has a robust and stimulating agenda. For those in communications, and not just in government agencies, but in every sector, that same leadership is knowledgeable about the fundamentals of good communications. I think this offers tremendous possibilities to all of us to be included as contributors to the developing story of our province.

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